England need to deploy the sweeper system. After all, it worked for Gazza and Co at Italia 90!!

June 13, 2010

In the aftermath of the 1-1 draw with the USA, Fabio Capello needs to re-structure the formation of the England team, if we are to advance to the latter stages of World Cup 2010. There are two fundamental areas of concern – in central defence, and up front. To counter these frailties and deficiencies, I would advocate that England should utilise a 3-5-1-1 formation, using the sweeper system.

The substitution of Ledley King at half time exposed a complete lack of pace in his replacement, Jamie Carragher. The alternatives are not much better in terms of pace – Matthew Upson and Michael Dawson. However the latter is a smooth Rolls Royce of a player, and he or King would lend themselves well to the  sweeper role in a back three with Carragher and John Terry as the stoppers. Therefore the sum of the parts would make up for the whole in terms of a lack of pace. This way, Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson would be free-ed up as wing backs to do what they do best – attack down the flanks, get to the byline and put over crosses. Something of which they are both very capable. It would also mean that in the latter stages of the tournament, when we come up against technically superior teams, we can compete and swamp the opposition with a five man midfield.

If the sweeper system seems a radical idea for an England team, let me take you back twenty years to Italia 90, and England’s best showing in a World Cup since 1966. Manager Bobby Robson deployed the sweeper in the third and final Group game against Egypt. England never looked back, reaching the Semi Finals. Captain Terry Butcher and Des Walker were the man markers, with Mark Wright as the sweeper, enabling the swashbuckling Stuart Pearce and Paul Parker to get forward at every opportunity in the role of wing backs.

Returning to the present, and World Cup 2010, this back three / sweeper system would indirectly remedy the problem of not having a recognised, out and out striker. In the absence of a Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer or Michael Owen, you could then play Steven Gerrard in the hole, just behind Wayne Rooney in order to support the latter in terms of goal scoring. Both players have demonstrated that they dovetail into these positions perfectly at club level. Back in 1990, Peter Beardsley played in the hole behind Gary Lineker, and it worked very well.

The remainder of the England Team 2010 should comprise of Gareth Barry or Michael Carrick in the defensive midfield position supported by the industrious Frank Lampard and either the mercurial dribbler, Joe Cole or James Milner should you wish to play a more defensive midfield.

That only leaves the goalkeeping position. Unlike 1990, England do not have the luxury of a World Class goalkeeper with twenty years of international experience ie Peter Shilton. Rob Green, as was proved last night, and David James, as has been proven over the last fifteen years, are prone to nerves and error. Joe Hart is the antithesis of Peter Shilton. He is uncapped, with no senior international experience. But what he has demonstrated all season is that not only does he have the reflexes of a leopard, but he has the heart, courage and mental strength of a lion. Therefore he is perfectly qualified to wear the “Three Lions” emblem, along with the other ten in a 3-5-1-1 formation –

Hart

Johnson  Terry  Carragher  King / Dawson  A. Cole

Lampard Barry J.Cole / Milner

Gerrard

Rooney

Only with this system and formation can the England team compete and conquer the better teams in the latter stages of World Cup 2010. But will Fabio Capello acknowledge that he has to change the system? He is a defiant, stubborn man, but if England do not adapt, their dream of winning the World Cup will die!!

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